Bell-ringing at Speyer

Music: Ludwig Senfl (c.1486 — 1543). Words: Sheena Phillips
performance time approx 2m 10s
Range S1,S2: d' – d'' / A: g – g' / T,B1: d – d' / B2: G – d
Price code: C
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a synthesized realisation
Senfl’s Das Glaut zu Speyer (also known as Das Geläut zu Speyer or Das Gläut zu Speyer) is a lively and humorous depiction of Sunday bell-ringing in the Rhineland town of Speyer. It includes onomatopeoic passages (mer, mir, mur, maun, gling, glang, bom, etc.) and also snippets of conversation between the bell-ringers and words of admonition and encouragement by their conductor. It's great fun to perform.

This English paraphrase preserves the rhyme scheme and the overall character of the original German version but takes a few liberties in order to sound colloquial rather than quaint. It also includes some English bell-ringing terminology.

A few editorial changes have been made, chiefly to indicate breathing spaces and to suggest a dynamic scheme in which the conversations stand out over the bell sounds. For the lowest alto notes (G below middle C), we have suggested an optional octave transposition.

Several editions of Senfl's original German language version, together with a literal translation, are available at


Gling, glang, etc.

Come now, one and all, and help me to haul.
Let’s ring a peal*. Come you as well, and take a bell, and strike it well.
Come here, one and all, and help me to haul.
Come join the band*, and lend a hand.

Mur, mir, maun, bom, etc.

Our big day is today! Please step in and begin.
Take a turn, you will learn. Keep working. No shirking.

Now come here one and all, get to work on this peal, ring a bell.
Pull now, join our company, all who would bellringers be.

Now don’t fire out*, or I shall shout. And don’t drop out!
We’re far from done, so please come spell me, someone! [i.e. take over from me for a while]

Now on this big day, we’re all here to play, so take up the slack, and tug sharp and quick.
Do not quit, do your bit, stretch up tall, give your all.
Stretch up, stand tall, with all you’ve got pull one and all.

I don’t like all this clang.
Now what’s the deal with this great peal?
The whole ding-dong takes us so long!

Come all of you, ring out, pull through, change 3 to 2*.
Now, Paul and Finn, you must pull in*, why are you wandering?
And to our donging, a crowd is thronging. Keep up the bonging!

John, ring behind*.
That’s fine, going well and good. Nice job, my lad.
Let each bell be rung well.

And while we play for love, God reigns above,
and earns our praise on Sabbath days.
This ringing hurts my head, I’d rather be in bed.
But we’re here now, we’ll cope somehow.
To do your best, don’t go so fast!
That’s right! Run out*!

Now work as one, in God’s own name.
They’ll come, or not.
John, give all you have got, just boom it out.
Finn, take good care, don’t let that sally* tear.

Now sound it loud to do us proud,
And keep it strong, ring out the song,
Mass is now starting.
So ring then in God’s own name.
What I say is: folk don’t need this!
There’s no call for all this clanging on the Sabbath day!
Sound all as one in God’s own name,
And we’ll all claim our share of fame.
To celebrate, we’ve pulled our weight.
The kids are coming now, bells tolling low,
We’ll sing our best, now ring your last,
The pastor comes in, and we begin!

Sheena Phillips
* explained in glossary

Words © copyright Sheena Phillips 2018 and reprinted with permission

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